Jim's Birthday Weekend At The Cabin

My friend Jim organizes a trip to a cabin in the Shenandoah Valley each year for his birthday. As his birthday is the day after Veterans Day, the trip normally occurs over the holiday weekend. However, this year the cabin he wanted to book was not available over Veterans Day, and so he and his wife organized the trip for Halloween weekend instead.

The cabin trip is a potluck affair, where all of the attendees are responsible for the shopping and cooking to prepare a particular meal for the entire group during the weekend. Of course, I also like to bring some baked goods. A few days before we left, I mixed up a batch of chocolate chip cookie dough using the New York Times recipe, and I stashed it in the refrigerator until we left. I baked up fresh cookies on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at the cabin. While most people seem to really enjoy a warm cookie straight out of the oven, I discovered that I actually like the cookies even more after they've been sitting out for a day, when the outside is slightly stale and crisp (I have always preferred crisp cookies over chewy ones).

I also baked a birthday cake on Thursday night and frosted it Friday morning to take along to the cabin. Jim requested that some part of the cake had to be chocolate (either the cake or the frosting), so I made chocolate on chocolate. Usually for a chocolate layer cake, I would make Chocolate Stout Cake, but since Jim's wife Colleen is pregnant, I didn't think it would be a good idea to serve a cake that is made with 2 cups of Guinness Stout. Instead, I decided to give Double Chocolate Layer Cake from epicurious.com a try. Apparently the recipe is from Engine Co. No. 28, a restaurant in downtown LA that I have tried and enjoyed.

The cake is made with 12 ounces of freshly brewed coffee and a cup and a half of buttermilk. The recipe calls for two 10-inch round cake pans, but I only have 9-inch pans, so I ended up with two very tall layers and an enormous cake. The ganache frosting set up quite nicely in the refrigerator, and the recipe yielded a good amount to cover the cake sufficiently (I was a little overcautious and didn't put enough filling in between the layers since I wasn't sure if I would have enough ganache to cover the entire cake). The cake was fine, and somewhat moist, but it was not as tasty as the One-In-A-Hundred Fudge Cake from the LA Times. However, the ganache was delicious and I would definitely make it again.

Happy Birthday Jim! Thanks to you and Colleen for organizing another wonderful weekend and inviting us along!

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